OUR OPINION: Tupelo CVB ups ante for aquatic center

By NEMS Daily Journal

The Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, in a timely and expedited decision, on Thursday approved $429,000 in new support for essential equipment and furnishings at the $11 million Tupelo Aquatic Center under construction at Veterans Memorial Park.
CVB, which receives some of the city’s tourism tax on lodging and food for its general budget, had heard a request last week from Mayor Jack Reed Jr. for additional funds to purchase and install competitive scoring/timing devices, bleachers for the spectators anticipated for year-round competitive swimming meets, and for lockers swimmers can use.
CVB, whose mission includes targeted support for its “products” like the aquatic center, voted unanimously Thursday to expand on earlier commitments to the project. Thursday’s vote assures $429,000 payable in timely installments as equipment is put in place.
The city, CVB and swimming support groups have worked for the better part of a decade to secure construction of an aquatic center to attract new generations of recreational swimmers and competitive swimmers and clubs from across Mississippi and the Southeast with events sanctioned by USA Swimming, the national governing organization with direct ties to the U.S. Olympic Committee.
In addition, private-sector supporters of the aquatic center and Tupelo’s swimming teams continue several tracks to raise substantial, additional funds for fully outfitting the arena, sometimes called a natatorium.
The CVB’s commitment will make possible key components:
• $260,000 for a scoreboard/timing system by Colorado Time Systems;
• $130,000 for bleachers, lockers and additional equipment; and
• $39,000 for its share of architectural and engineering fees.
Young competitive swimmers – and recreational swimmers, too – will thank CVB for its vision and generosity for decades because the new center is a long-term investment.
CVB Executive Director Neal McCoy said the vote further demonstrates commitment to supporting the youth sports market, and he is right. The range of USASwimming involvement with the sport across the country can be seen at www.usaswimming.org.
Reed noted that the new center keeps Tupelo competitive with many other cities, particularly citing a $50 million commitment by Jackson, Tenn., for a new downtown recreation and competition center.
Investment of vision, energy and resources never ends for a city that seeks to compete in the highest level for its size.